Reprinted from the Weirs
Note: The following article
has been prepared for the sole purpose of recording the
story of Windermere and to introduce the history of Long
Island on Lake Winnipesaukee. The writer hopes that this
article will revive the memory of an era when many beautiful
Victorian summer estates were an accentual part of the
American scene. Since many of these early mansions have
now disappeared, and the luxurious way of life which they
represented also has disappeared, this recollection of
Windermere may serve as a contribution to out cultural
pasts. Gardiner G. Greene
The following is an edited reprint from
Mr. Greene’s publication Windermere with special
permission granted by his son Gardiner Greene, Laconia,
Long Island History
“A brief history of Long Island, the
largest island on Lake Winnipesaukee in Moultonboro, will
properly introduce Windermere, the charming, park-like
estate upon which stands the well-preserved Victorian
mansion, built in 1891-1892 by Dr. Frank Eugene Greene
on the southern end of the island where it commands a
spectacular view of the Belknap Mountain Range and the
“Broads” of the lake.
“Long before becoming an attraction to tourists
and summer residents, Long Island was building an historical
heritage of its own, dating back to 1799 when it was annexed
to the Town of Moultonborough. At that time and on into
the 20th century, twelve hundred of its acres were found
to be very productive farm land where major crops brought
prosperity and some fame to the early settlers.
“Two names stand predominantly in this early farming
period: John Boody and John Brown. Boody raised wheat
of such superior quality that it was purchased by the
Federal Government and shipped to the farmers in the western
states who recognized and utilized its excellent seed.
More impressive is the fact that so much wheat of quality
was grown on the farms of Long Island that John Pillsbury
built a wind-powered flour mill on the top of nearby Cow
“On his Long Island acres, Brown developed King
Philip Corn - used meal - a strain said to have come from
seed given to the pilgrims at Plymouth Colony by Massasoit,
son of King Philip. For this flint corn with its eight-rowed
grains and its ears ranging in length from ten to thirteen
inches, Brown won considerable acclaim. For fifty years,
he held the record in New Hampshire for the quantity of
corn per acre which he produced.
“An indication that dairying was a profitable sideline
for these early settlers, stems from the fact that Brown’s
wife Catherine Follet-Brown, became known for her excellent
cheeses. She produced these in quantities of six and seven
hundred pounds annually.
“These farmers were joined in 1839 by Robert Lamprey
who brought his family to the Island and built a farmhouse
near the site of the present Windermere mansion. Lamprey
made a name for himself with his shelled corn of which
he raised as much as one hundred and thirty-one bushels
and seven quarts per acre. In 1891, Lamprey moved his
house to Geneva Point on Moultonborough Neck and sold
his holdings on the southern end of Long Island to Dr.
Frank Eugene Greene, thus providing Greene with the land
upon which his summer estate was to be developed. Still
another name which figures in the history of the Island
is Wentworth, whose property was situated on the third
of the Island nearest Moultonborough. Thus, the name Brown,
Lamprey, Wentworth, and Greene; and later with the passage
of time, Blackstone, were to become almost synonymous
with Long Island and Lake Winnipesaukee.
“From early times, the raft, gundalow, catamaran,
horseboat, scow, and the barge played their significant
parts in the lives of those residing on Long Island. From
this time on, with the advent of the steamboats, the history
of the Lakes and all its islands shift from a small self-contained
area with its own schools, bands, boat builders, and farmers
into a far less isolated and independent community.
In the last half of the 19th century, the use of the steamboat,
in conjunction with the railroads, promoted a tourist
boom which led to the building of hotels and inns; and
many homes became boarding houses while others catered
to paying guests.
There were two hostelries on Long Island: The Browns’
Long Island Inn was established in 1874. It was very successfully
operated by George K. Brown, son of John and Catherine,
and later by their son, Harry. Their house, built in 1830,
is still standing, near the entrance gates of Windermere.
From this Inn, the slope of the shore of the Lake was
cleared and an avenue of trees led down to the large wharf.
It was, at this time, a great accommodation that mail
was delivered by boat five time a day. Such famous steamers
as The Lady of the Lake and the first Mount Washington
on their trips around the Lake, bring, in addition to
the mail, provisions, freight, and passengers.
“The other hostelry, named Island Home, known locally
as Blake’s Hotel, was situated half way down Long
Island. It was flourishing in 1878 under the management
of two cousins, one named Blake; the other, Lamprey. Popular
in its day, it stood unused for a number years, but it
remained standing until 1962 when it was destroyed by
“Thus, the improved bridge and accessibility provided
by the steamboat not only attracted tourists to Long Island,
but it drew summer residents who built beautiful homes
and brought to the area an elegant way of life, heretofore
unknown. Prominent among those who had the means and the
foresight to choose Long Island as a site for summer residence
were two brothers, namely: Dr. Frank Eugene Greene and
Dr. Jared Alonzo Greene, both of whom were known for their
patented blood and nerve medicines, the best known and
most popular of which was Greene’s Nervura. In connection
with their thriving business, they pioneered with their
national advertising and promotions. They came from the
Boston area and had factories there as well as in New
York and Chicago.
“As previously mentioned, the Lamprey’s sold
their land at the tip of Long Island to Dr. Frank Eugene
Greene. On this property, during 1891-92, he built the
spacious three-story mansion which still stands carefully
preserved. The house, representing the Victorian style
of architecture frequently found in summer homes of that
era, stands upon spacious grounds with well-kept lawns,
and with fields, meadows, and woodland beyond. As it stands
today, a macadam road leads to its entrance which is impressively
marked by a pair of large granite gate posts hung with
wrought iron gates. A well paved driveway continues on
into the property, passes the gate house and winds its
way to the mansion. Although geographically in Mountonborough,
the estate is approximately ten miles from the Village
of Center Harbor.
The Windermere Estate
“Windermere has the usual related
buildings found on an estate of its time. Aside from the
caretaker’s house, also referred to as the gate
house, there is a stable, icehouse, pump house, and a
poultry house. The buildings today remain in fine shape
as they did over a hundred years ago.
“The story of the building of Windermere begins
in 1891 when Dr. Frank Eugene Greene purchased the Lamprey
acreage. Dr. Greene then consulted with the well-known
Boston architect, J.H. Besarick. The blueprints, prepared
by Besarick are among the Greene family’s records.
At this time, Dr. Greene sought out two contractors, requesting
bids, one was from Boston; the other from Laconia, NH.
Busiel, the Laconia contractor, was the low bidder and
he was given the contract. As construction proceeded,
the Boston firm requested permission to see the finished
product. A representative who visited the estate declared
that he could not have done as good a job.
“The construction of Windermere and its related
buildings was spread over two years. All the materials
used came by boat, barge, horseboat, and by steamboat
from Lakeport, NH. Approximately one hundred workmen camped
in tents on the property while the mansion was under construction.
This was customary in the days before the automobile made
possible the daily “portal to portal” approach.
Dr. Greene, while the building went on, frequently stayed
at the Long Island Inn as he watched and guided the progress.
Although the materials were transported by boat, and although
one hundred men were involved in the building which took
two years, the cost of the three main buildings: the mansion,
the gate house, and the barn, added up to $16,000.
The Name Windermere
“Dr. Green and his wife were frequent
travelers abroad where they collected art objects of all
kinds, many of which are among the furnishings of Windermere,
ie., paintings, sculpture, artifacts, and other treasures.
Following a visit to the Lake Country in England, they
chose the name for their country estate, impressed as
they must have been with Lake Windermere which has been
so often described poetically for its beauty and peaceful
charm. No doubt, they saw a similarity between the beautiful
British lake and New Hampshire’s Lake Winnipesaukee.
Architecture & Design
“The mansion at Windermere and its
related buildings were given red roofs and, to the day,
all the buildings are painted Colonial yellow with white
trim. Black blinds give the finishing touch. The exterior
walls are faced with hand-cut shingles and clapboards;
and spacious, covered, columned porches nearly surround
the house, providing outdoor living space where views
of great natural beauty meet the eye in all directions.
“Dr. Greene planted several unusual trees and shrubs,
and nearly 50 varieties are flourishing around Windermere
“The first floor consists of a large living hall
with an enormous fireplace of fancy water-struck brick;
the walls and ceiling are of quartered oak panels. This
oak paneling continues up the wall up the wide, circular
staircase to the second floor. An ornate wrought-iron
chandelier graces the living hall, hanging from the center
of the room. Off to the right of this living hall, a music
room is elaborately furnished with paintings, objects
d’art, fine furniture, and a Chickering concert
grand piano. Over all, in this room, hangs a crystal chandelier.
The billiard room, also off the living hall, has an ornate
fireplace and is wainscoted in cherry with hand-painted,
embossed wallpaper, imported from Germany. The dining
room, like all rooms on the ground floor, is completely
furnished with unusual furniture and accessories. The
walls are adorned with original oil painting in gilded
frames. The dining room has whitewood wainscoting, mahogany
stained up to chair-rail height, above which is the original
red-flocked wallpaper which covers the upper walls. An
ornate fireplace completes the decor of the dining room.
“From the dining room, a butler’s pantry of
copious size, leads to the kitchen. The butler’s
pantry has a dish washing sink and adequate shelves for
china, bespeaking the tremendous meals and generous hospitality
which stemmed from it.
“The kitchen, a large room with two pantries, is
the only modernized room in the mansion. It has been equipped
with a new stainless steel sink and an electric range.
The kitchen continues to be equipped for serving bountiful
meals to large group of guests. The atmosphere of the
kitchen is homey with its low table around which a group
may sit comfortably on an old settle or a rocking chair
and chat. Old kitchen equipment is displayed here and
there. Beyond the kitchen, the original walk-in ice chest
remains unchanged as does the turn-of-the-century laundry
room. A washer and dryer have, however, been incorporated
for modern convenience. Despite the installation of these
few modern contrivance, the original wood stove remains,
giving the hospitable Victorian kitchen, a tone all its
“The second floor hall, hung with pictures of Greene
ancestors in gold-leaf frames, leads to five master bedrooms
and one single room. There is also a trunk room on this
floor. Two of the bedrooms have fireplaces and two are
equipped with stoves. A full bath and a half bath complete
the second floor. All these bedrooms are furnished in
Victorian style. The third floor consists of three large
guests rooms and three servants’ rooms, all appropriately
“A high-posted cellar, with large granite blocks
serving as a foundation, supports the entire mansion.
An interesting gas system, with a large crib of stones,
provided the lighting. This contraption, in order to function,
had to be cranked up each day to provide pressure for
the gas lighting fixtures which were installed originally
in the house and barn. This gas device shows the ingenuity
used in contriving comforts in those days. By putting
gas under pressure in the basement, gas lighting made
available for the mansion and the barn. Today Windermere
is entirely serviced by electricity.
“The barn at Windermere was as carefully planned
and built as the mansion. It is L-shaped and consists
of a stable area with stalls for ten horses. There are
two carriage rooms and two large hay lofts as well as
second floor quarters for stable help: coachman, groom,
and others. The cow barn has stalls for ten cows, two
bull pens, two hay lofts, and other rooms. The barn has
a full cellar and rests upon a large granite block foundation.
“The barn houses a wooden, two thousand gallon water
tank, installed in the highest peak of the barn. This
was used to provide gravity-fed water to the mansion.
Originally, the water was pumped underground from the
Lake one quarter of a mile away by a rare type ‘hot-air’
piston pump. The mansion is now fed by an artisan well.
“Another building, not previously mentioned as part
of the Windermere Estate is the large boathouse. In connection
with this, a note, historically interesting, is that all
the Greenes had steam yachts which plied the water of
Lake Winnipesaukee, used largely for fishing parties,
easy transportation about the lake, and lavish social
events. Dr. Frank Eugene Greene’s first yacht, the
Mohawk, burned in 1906. This he replaced with a larger
one, the Windermere, named for his estate.
“Although this is the story of Windermere, the summer
estate of Dr. Frank Eugene Greene and his family, others
of the Greene family have left memories which have found
a place in the history of Long Island on Lake Winnipesaukee.
Dr. Jared Alonzo Greene, Frank’s brother and partner
in the patent medicine business, also purchased property
on Long Island. On this, in 1895, Alonzo chose to build
his mansion on the highest point of land toward the est.
He named his estate Roxmont. The mansion resembled a castle
or fortress and soon was referred to as ‘Greene’s
“Today. all that is left of Roxmont is the stone
gateway; for the costly and unusual structure burned to
the ground thirty-five years after it was built. Still,
the memory of this exotic mansion lives and it has become
more or less of a legend.”